A computer scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed an algorithm designed to help create new top-level internet domains.
As new domains are added to the familiar .com, .info and .net, the algorithm checks whether the newly proposed name is confusingly similar to existing ones by looking for visual likenesses in its appearance.
Having visually distinct top-level domain names may help avoid confusion in navigating the ever-expanding internet.
It may also help to combat fraud by reducing the potential to create malicious lookalikes, such as .c0m with a zero instead of .com, according to developer Paul E. Black.
Black's algorithm compares a proposed generic top-level domain (gTLD) with other TLDs and generates a score based on their visual similarities. For example, the .c0m scores an 88 per cent visual similarity with .com.
The resulting scores may help indicate whether the newly proposed domain name looks too much like an existing one.
Icann plans later this year to launch the process for proposing a new round of gTLDs, strings such as .net, .gov and .org meant to indicate organisations or interests.
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